An attorney for the new owner of the former Highland Country Club, and an landscape architect laid out plans for a 300 home development before the Ross Township Planning Commission and a skeptical audience of 150-200 residents Thursday night.
Attorney Jonathan Kamin began the presentation by explaining the details of a plan approved Tuesday by a federal bankruptcy judge. The key points:
- All creditors of the bankrupt country club would be paid in full.
- Memorabilia still inside the clubhouse would be returned to its rightful owner, or preserved.
- Former members of the country club would be compensated.
Steven Victor, of the landscape architecture firm Victor-Wetzel, then outlined how the land would be carved up for 300 single-family and townhomes. The key points:
- 130 single family homes ranging in price from $350,000 - $500,000.
- 170 Townhouses priced in the low $200,000 range.
- 2 entrances along Highland Avenue leading to the single family homes.
- 2 entrances along Gass Road and 1 along Golf Drive leading to the townhomes.
- Each home and townhome will have a 2-car garage and a driveway large enough for 2 additional vehicles.
- A traffic study will be conducted, in conjunction with PennDOT and Ross Township police to determine what changes may be necessary to mitigate the impact of the increased number of vehicles from the development.
After questions from members of the Planning Commission, members of the audience had their say.
"With all of this extra traffic, it's going to be pretty bad," said one resident who lives near the intersection of Petunia Avenue and Golf Drive.
"Why can't you just put in 120 houses, you can't pay off the debt with that," questioned another resident. "Why can't you spread them out?"
Kamin argued that number of homes is deceiving, because of the size of the property.
"Keep in mind it's a 117 acre site, so you're talking about less than three homes an acre, if you average it out over the course of the site," he said. "If you look at the typical density of an urban community, it's like five per acre or six per acre, so the 300 home number is obscured by the fact that the site is so enormous."
Another Peony Avenue resident echoed the concerns about traffic. "I cannot pull out of my driveway in the morning to take my son to school," she said. "The traffic studies don't do anything. People fly off of Gass Road; I've nearly gotten rear-ended numerous times. You're going to add 300 homes, two car garages, that's 600 cars. Where is it all going to go?
A woman who lives along Lilac Avenue feared the price of the new homes would ultimately raise her taxes. "You are going to price me out of my own neighborhood. I wish you wouldn't go through this, I mean it's all about the money and it's sickening," she said.
Member of the Planning Commission plan to visit the site, and await the results of the traffic study before taking any action. They will discuss the development again at their next meeting on Dec. 20.
It's ultimately up to the Ross Township board of commissioners to approve this preliminary plan. It will go before the commissioners on Jan. 7.
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